Finding Karl Severin Bengtson – The challenges of research for Swedes in First World War.

When researching for Swedish born soldiers in different digital archives, the result often comes out without any specific difficulties. You only have to be aware of what could have been changed between their emigration period and when they finally came home from the war, or when they fell and became buried on the battlefield, or at home.

It is normal that Scandinavian names and surnames were changed, especially when they emigrated to North America and Canada.

In this case it was a bit harder. I will take you through the process when I finally found out who Karl Severin Bengtson probably was in the Great War.

I like to read old digitized newspapers, and in this case I found a note about Karl Severin Bengtson (Bengtsson), how it was described to his family back home in Sweden, that he fell on the Western Front on November 8th, 1918.

My first reaction was that I thought it was a bit sad that he fell so close to the armistice.

Below you can read the Swedish text about Karl, in the second part of the text. I have translated the actual text to english below the snippet.

“-According to the message sent to the family, Karl Severin Bengtson fell on the Western Front on November 8th. He was born 1883 in Renneslöfs (Renneslöv) parish and he is mourned by his mother and his siblings.”

In the text above it is also mentioned that Harry L Carlson was killed in France. He actually fell on November 11th, 1918. His name was Harry Leonard Carlson, he kept his name and his surname, and was quite easy to find in different archives. I visited Harry last summer, in St. Mihiel American Cemetery.

Back to Karl Severin. I tried to find more information about Karl through Swedish church books and also on Ancestry. But the only results that I found on Ancestry was the facts I already knew from the Swedish Archives. No information to be found about any participation in the war. I changed the spelling, used the date of birth, date of death, but still no results. I decide to search without his surname, and also added his parents names, in this case Sven and Agneta.

I searched in the American and Canadian Archives, but still no luck.

Finally, on Ancestry, I found a Carl Swanson, with the same date of death as Karl Severin. Could this be a lead?

Below a snippet of the document I found. Normally it is hard to find the Canadian cards of “circumstance of death” regarding surnames beginning with “Sims” and beyond, due to damage of those cards.

On the card there is a lot of information that can be connected to Sweden. Mrs N Gengetson sounds like Bengtson, but it should be A Bengtson, as in “Agneta”. The village Lahelm is probably Laholm in the landscape of Halland in Sweden, here described as “Holland”. Ränneslöv parish is situated in Laholm region. Carl died of Influenza, and is buried in Canada.

I found 3215010 Carl Swanson in Library and Archives Canada, and here I got more information to compare to the facts I have about Karl Severin. Could Carl Swanson be Karl Severin Bengtsson?

Below you will see a snippet from the Canadian Archive, with some more explanations below the snippet.

The date of birth is May 29th, 1883 for Carl Swanson, and May 30th, 1883 for Karl Severin. Renslofs Saken, Sweeden is probably Ränneslövs Socken (parish) in Sweden.

The name Nita Bengtsen is probably Agneta Bengtson, as Nita is probably the nickname for his mother Agneta, and it is quite common in Sweden to call Agneta for “Neta”.

My conclusion in this case is that I have probably found Karl Severin, to be Carl Swanson. His middle name Severin and his surname Bengtsson disappeared during his time in Canada. Karl was later spelled Carl, which was very common. Karl Severin left Sweden in May 1901.

But Carl Swanson didn’t participate in the war on the Western Front, as states in the newspaper. He died in Strathcona Military Hospital, Canada, from Influenza, and he is buried in Edmonton Mount Pleasant Cemetery, in Edmonton. Below you can see how and when he probably catched his Illness, that later on led to his death.

Carl Swanson is one of few Swedish born soldiers that seems to have been drafted under the Canadian Military Service Act (M.S.A) and it looks like he was naturalized as well.

I find it very interesting to find the actual story of the different individuals I find within my research, and I can’t avoid thinking of if his family ever was informed about the actual circumstances about Carl’s death.

That will maybe be another story. May Carl rest in peace.

More Swedish connections – Oscar Horace Nelson

One thing I like with my research is to really try to find all the facts that I can about certain individuals, and later on connect them to the terrain through other documents such as diaries, maps and similar documents.

I was just searching through AUSTRALIAN RED CROSS WOUNDED AND MISSING FILES, where I find files with very interesting and rich in facts about individuals, timings and locations.

Suddenly I came across the files about Oscar Horace Nelson, as his name was a typical Scandinavian name. I decided to look him up and below you will find the small story about Oscar and especially his link to Sweden.

I found the photo of Oscar Horace Nelson on Ancestry, and he looked quite thin and small on the photo, when he is wearing his uniform from the Australia Imperial Forces.

I quickly found some other pages on the web about Oscar Horace Nelson, which describes his story in detail and below you will find the links to those pages:

Oscar Horace Nelson 1

Oscar Horace Nelson 2

Oscar Horace Nelson 3

Below I will contribute to the story with facts about his Swedish father, Johan Nilsson, or John Nelson as he called himself in Australia. I will also mention some information about the terrain where Oscar fell, and the circumstances about his death.

His father Johan Nilsson was born in Hannas, Väsby Parish, in Malmöhus county, Skåne, Sweden, December 13th, 1849, and raised by his parents Lars Nilsson and Karna Larsdotter.

I have tried to find when Johan left Sweden, but is has been hard to find the specific emigration document, or emigration note in the Swedish Church books. I have found documents about when he was granted Naturalisation in Australia in 1893, at Port Adelaide, Australia. Johan was a sailor, as many of those Swedish born soldiers who stepped off in Australia and later joined The Australian Forces in WW1, for various reasons.

I have also found that he married Oscar’ mother Johanna Rodgers, later on Johanna Nelson, also called Annie. Johan and Johanna were married in Brompton, South Australia, in 1878.

Johan Nilsson and his wife are buried at the same cemetery, at Hindmarch Cemetery, South Australia.

But what happened to Oscar? The specific death of Oscar occurred January 7th, 1917.

Oscar was in-charge of a pack of Mules which were loaded with provisions. He had been leading the mules to Fleurs and Gueudecourt from Pozieres when in an instant, a shell exploded nearby. He was killed on the spot by shrapnel and debris.

Below there are some documents that describes the moments, described by some witnesses.

If we look at some maps we will find the area where he was buried, close to the dressing station near the HQ of the 12th brigade, AIF, which was the unit Oscar’s battalion belonged to. He was initially buried at the Switch Trench Cemetery, but later moved to his final resting place, Guards Cemetery, Lesboeufs, France, 16 km North-East of the town of Albert.

The HQ was established in the vicinity of the old German trenches, the Switch Trench and the Gap Trench, by the time Oscar was killed, according to the unit diary. The trenches were established South-East of the village of Flers as you will see on the maps below.

Next time, when I am in the area I will visit Oscar on his final resting place, and take my own photo of his headstone. Below you will find a snippet of another photo, from one of the links above, where you can find more info about Oscar and his adventure, before he fell on the battlefield along the Western Front.

May Oscar rest in peace.

Full list of Swedish born soldiers

I have decided to release the full list of my soldiers that I have found so far.

– Swedish born individuals – at least one Swedish born parent

– Fought and fell at the Western Front in WW1

– Buried or commemorated at the Western Front

– Raw PDF format – protected

– Sorted by cemetery

Download link here

Book release!

click here to order the book!


Special offer for Great War Group Conference in Brighton 2023 – See below!

So finally, my first book about the Swedish born soldiers, who fought and fell in the Great War, at the Western Front, is almost finished! It is ready for the printer, and the first copy will be finished for printing next week!

This book is about those Swedish born soldiers who fought and fell in the Great War and are buried or Commemorated in Belgium. The book describes my passion, project and my research, Swedish emigration to the countries they served for, and small stories about those 48 soldiers who fought in WW1 at the Western Front, fell and are buried or commemorated in Belgium.

Special offer!

On October 20th to 22nd, 2023, I will participate in the Great War Group Conference in Brighton, and I will be able to bring a limited amount of books, to bring over to those who wants to buy my book, and have it handed over to them at the conference.

In this case it is only possible to pay in advance, so I don’t have to handle any payments at the conference!

This one time special offer for Brighton Conference is:




The original price for the book will be:

SEK 249:- + SEK 70:- for Shipping (Shipping abroad SEK 130:-)

If you will visit the conference, and want me to bring your copy, email me on the email below, to get the special offer payment link! The payment will be able to do with PayPal and Google Pay or card through Stripe!

As my space on the plane will be limited it will be first come, first served!

For those who are not able to visit the conference, the book will shortly be available here on my website, through the “shop” link in the main menu. It will be available to order on demand within two to three weeks, if everything goes according to plan.

Thank you very much for your support!

Swedes in the French Foreign Legion – they fought – they fell – watch the movie

Sometimes a movie with photos and text can bring a lot when it comes to understand a subject. In this case I decided to do a short video about those Swedes who fought and fell for the French Foreign legion in the Great War. I also chose to include some of the other Swedes who participated and survived.

You can find the video in the website area to the right. Thank you for watching.

Visit the Swedes

I have now developed some new functions on my webpage and now you can find the possibility to use the links about the soldiers in the Main menu, and through those find that the list are searchable and can be filtered.

I can be a nice function for those who are visiting the FWW battlefield cemeteries and want to know how many Swedish born soldiers there are in that specific cemetery.

Below you find a screenshot of how it looks now.

The links in the screenshot below are now updated with new functions.

Do not hesitate to ask if you have any questions.

Guidebook on it’s way.

When I started this project, I said to myself that one day I will write a book about my research. During the process it has turned out that it will probably be several books, and maybe one book in the end, about the research in itself.

Right now I am in the middle of producing the first book of several in a serie of guidebooks.

The first book will contain information about those Swedish born soldiers who fought and fell at the Western Front in Belgium. In the book you will be able to follow in the footsteps of the Swedes, where they were born in Sweden to the place where they fell and are buried.

The focus will be on the soldiers and not so much about the battles in which they fought, even if it it will some information about that as well.

Hopefully the book will be finished in the beginning of 2023.

The emigrated soldiers – Where did they live, where did the move?

I have a lot of data in my database, about all, so far, 425 Swedish born soldiers who fought and fell at the Western Front in the Great War. I decided to combine some of the data and put it together in another context.

In this case I have looked up data about where they lived when they were born in Sweden, and to which place they moved to, when they emigrated. I have decided to put the data into Google Earth Map projects, to get a picture of where they lived before they went over to thye Western Front. First out to be finished so far are the soldiers who fought for the American Expeditionary Forces, at this moment 236 soldiers.

You can click on the photo below to reach the project in itself, where you can click on the soldiers names, and see a map over where they lived in Sweden, and in some cases also a photo of the soldier. You have to have Google Earth program installed to be able to see the project.

Still under development

The next project I am working on is putting the Swedish soldiers who emigrated to the British North America (Canada) and fought and fell for the Canadian Expeditionary Forces in a similar Google Earth Project, that shows where they lived In Canada before they went over to France. You can reach the project by clicking on the photo below. The Project is still under construction.

I will try to put in all the 92 confirmed canadian soldiers from those 105 I have in my research on the map, and I will try to find and confirm those soldiers that I haven’t been able to confirm through Swedish church books yet.

…And here they fell, those who fought for the Commonwealth

By clicking on the photo you will be taken to my Google Earth project that shows where those Swedish born soldiers, who fought for the commonwealth, fell and are buried. Here you will also find more information about each individual.

In the main menu above you will also find the link “Virtual tour on map” which will take you to some of the projects seen here on this page, but also one who tells you about around 100 Swedish born soldiers who fell in the Meuse-Argonne offensive.

Just let me know if there are any questions by contacting me thorugh the contact form in the main menu.

A Swedish soldier in 2nd Canadian Tunneling Coy.

During this week I am looking through some names that I haven’t been able to confirm in the Swedish Church books, to actually be those individuals they say they are.

Swedish born soldier Charles Anderson is one of them. If I go back to my created “ww1 Swedish names convention” it can be a Karl Andersson. But both Karl, Carl and the surname Andersson is one of the most common names in Sweden, even back at those times. I decided to try to find more information about him.

This is what I know about our Charles Anderson so far. He claim to be born in Helsingborg in Sweden in December 29, 1888. In his Canadian registration forms he doesn’t mention any Next of Kin from his family, only a friend named Pete Mcdonald. Further down in his papers he is writing his Military Will to a Miss Lydia Smith, Hastings street West No 5, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. There is no information about the relation between Charles And Lydia.

The only thing I can use in this case is the Place of Birth (PoB) as he says is Helsingborg, and also his Date of Birth (DoB). I have found one individual born in Helsingborg, with the correct DoB, in Helsingborg, with the name Charles, and also has some similar notes in the church book, which I so often find on other soldiers that I have in my database.

He is a sailor, as many Swedish born soldiers were, before they went over to their new home countries and became soldiers to fight in the Great War. There is also some notes about that he is absent. He is also removed from the files in Helsingborgs Naval Corps, due to his absence.

His name is Charles Otto Waldemar Jörgenson. Right now it is only one of his names, Charles, DoB and PoB that matches this Charles Anderson. I have tried to find more information about this Charles Otto Waldemar, but it has been difficult. Maybe he finally stopped in Canada and decided to become a citizen after all his travels around the world? We will probably never know. One more document that may indicate that this is Charles Anderson is the registration of his death. In the Swedish Church books he is finally declared dead in 1943, which can explain that his relatives never received any information about his death, as they were not mentioned as Next of Kin.

Even if Charles Anderson is Charles Otto Waldemar or not, I have looked into his military service. Charles served as a soldier in 2nd Canadian Tunneling Coy, as I understand also was a part of 2nd canadian Division. The unit were formed in Alberta and British Columbia and this Company moved to France and into the Ypres sector for instruction. Shortly afterwards, in April 1916, relieved 172nd Company between Tor Top, Armagh Wood and St Eloi. (link)

When reading the diary from the date of Charles Anderson death, which is March 10, 1918, it is mentioned that one O.R (Other Ranks) is killed that day, and that person is according to the diary buried in Wieltje, Nort-East of Ieper, Belgium. Charles is buried at Wieltje at Oxford Road Cemetery. Charles can be the O.R that is mentioned in the diary. In the diary it is also mentioned some places where the unit worked those actual days. Those places are named “Bremen” and “Jackdaw”.

If I search for those places in some trench maps I find “Bremen Redoubt” a bit East of Wieltje, which could mean that they moved to that area and worked. This must be just before the German Spring Offensive which starts March 21. The other place, “Jackdaw” is connected to several places, mainly in the Zillebeke area. Below you can see some snippets from some trench maps, but not from the exact period in 1918. You can also see a map showing the area which the Germans took back in the Spring Offensive, marked with red lines, and also a red marked area which explains the area of the other trench maps.

I really hope I can find more information about this Charles Anderson, if he is connected to Charles Otto Waldemar or not, future will tell. The work in the tunnels must have been very stressful, especially during those countermeasures against German tunnel diggers. They performed a very dangerous work.

As mentioned above, Charles Anderson is buried at Oxford Road Cemetery. He was granted leave and returned to his duty February 11th, 1918, and one month later he was killed by shrapnel. I will visit him later on this summer, to take photos of the area where he worked and where he is buried. May Charles rest in peace.

Swedes reburied at home

I have now extended my research to also include those Swedes who fought on the Western Front, fell there and were buried there, but later on reburied in Sweden, as their relatives wanted their sons to come home to the mother soil.

You will find it in the “soldiers” link in the main menu. So far I have only located photos of the headstones in Sweden from three of the soldiers, but I hope I will locate more of them, when visiting their old home parish. Hopefully they will still be standing there.